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Published on September 23, 2017

How “Love Is All About Sacrifice” Ruins Our Love Lives

How “Love Is All About Sacrifice” Ruins Our Love Lives

New relationships are entrancing and consuming in both the best and worst of ways. When I was younger I would dive into a new relationship giving it everything I had. My lover was my world and I would do anything for them. Our relationship became my number one priority and everything else just fell by the wayside. Overcome with the love bug, I didn’t mind spending all of my time and effort on my budding relationships.

In my very first relationship, I became completely enveloped in my new lover. Nothing else mattered. I had no problem going above and beyond for them in order to make them happy, because seeing them happy made me happy too. I thought that by devoting myself entirely, I was paving the way for a happy and long lasting relationship.

Love is blinding. I couldn’t see the inevitable even though it was right in front of my face.

I thought my efforts would be recognized without having to ask. But when it wasn’t reciprocated, I started to become resentful. I never expressed my expectations or my reasons for getting upset. My partner couldn’t understand what changed. A total lack of communication and one-sided effort destroyed what was once a beautiful thing. That’s when I realized that I had to be more vocal about what I wanted from my relationships.

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Making Your Partner Happy at the Expense of Your Own Happiness Worsens Your Relationship

Some people are just naturally nurturing, giving individuals. I give because I want my partner to be happy. My intentions are initially pure and I don’t expect much in return. But still, I do expect something.

Other people are naturally takers. They don’t mean to be, but they’re just inherently inconsiderate. It’s human instinct to be prone to laziness. If someone is offering to take care of you, you’re going to take them up on their offer. When your partner is thanklessly giving, you fall into the habit of receiving without realizing there is an issue with giving nothing back.

In an attempt to win over the taker, givers will try to give more, hoping that their partner will catch on and feel obliged to return the favor. Relationships take sacrifice. But that doesn’t mean sacrificing your own interests and preferences to make your partner happy. Eventually your lovers priorities will supersede your own and you’ll find that you have no say in the relationship. You may even find that you lose interest in the things you once cared about, losing touch with who you truly are—the person that your partner supposedly fell for in the first place.

Love Is a Two Sided Equation

Think of a relationship as an equation. It takes two people. If only one person is giving, the relationship is one sided.

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A one sided equation looks like this: 1+0=1

The giver is 1 while the receiver is 0. When you’re not receiving anything back, you’re in this alone.

Eventually the giver is going to get burned out. Drained of all of their resources, the one-sided relationship leaves them feeling exhausted and neglected. The taker, who is used to receiving all of the spoils may not realize that there is even an issue. This imbalance will cause toxicity in the relationship and ultimately ruin it.

A balanced relationship equation should look more like this: 1+1=2

TWO! There are two people. A healthy relationship takes both people’s effort. Two people who should be giving as well as receiving.

A healthy relationship is not always 1+1=2. If the giver starts to give more, they should also be given the same more to make the love relationship make sense. So it can be 2+2=4 or 3+3=6. As long as both people are giving each other the same and putting the same effort into the relationship, it’s a balanced one.

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Creating a Equal Relationship

Your wants and needs are just as important as your partners. Having an open dialogue about your expectations for a relationship will only strengthen your bond. Just as long as your partner reciprocates. When you both understand that you both deserve an equal amount of love and respect, your relationship will flourish into a healthy partnership.

After you have established what it is that you want and expect in return, share your thoughts with your partner in a calm and reasonable manner. Encourage them to give feedback to open a balanced dialogue. Tell them what you can and cannot expect, and ask them to tell you the same.

Relationships are not all about self-sacrifice. They’re about compromise. Which does involve a level of sacrifice, but on both sides. You will gain a better understanding of each other and establish balance in the relationship. This is how you maintain the even 1+1=2 ratio.

Although you want to make your partner happy, you need to make your happiness a priority as well. If you give and give and ask for nothing in return, it will cause a poisonous trend that will eventually kill your relationship.

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Communication is key. Always keep an open dialogue with your partner about what you both except from your relationship. At the end of a failed relationship, we always regret the things that we didn’t say. Forget regret and speak up as the issues arise. You can’t be afraid to communicate your concerns with your partner. If you can’t, the relationship isn’t going to work.

I learned a lot from my first relationship. Although it ended in heartbreak, I learned a very valuable lesson. I can’t be the only one who gives. And I can’t be afraid to tell my partner if I have an issue with something. It needs to be a group effort, otherwise I’m better off standing on my own.

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Anna Chui

Communication Expert

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Published on July 13, 2018

Striving Towards Secure Attachment: How to Restructure Your Thoughts

Striving Towards Secure Attachment: How to Restructure Your Thoughts

What if you could discover some tools and methods that could improve your relationships? What if by gaining a little knowledge you could understand your relationship dynamics better and give them a boost up?

By learning what secure attachment is and how to restructure your thoughts, you can become more self-aware of your relationship dynamics. After becoming more aware, you can then take a few steps to make them better than ever. That’s something that many of us could benefit from.

When we hear the term secure attachment, our mind typically goes to a relationship. And that’s exactly what it’s about.

In this article I’ll discuss the concept of secure attachments in more detail and how restructuring your thoughts can help you strive towards achieving better relationships.

Relationships are a hugely important part of our lives and whatever we can do to improve them is a good thing for everyone involved.

What is attachment theory?

Let’s do a quick overview of what attachment theory is. This will provide a good foundation for the rest of this article.

The esteemed psychologist John Bowlby first coined the term attachment theory in the late 60’s. Bowlby studied early childhood conditioning extensively and what he found was very interesting.

His research showed that when a very young child has a strong attachment to a caregiver, it provides the child with a sense of security and foundation. On the other hand when there isn’t a secure attachment, the child will expend a lot more developmental energy looking for security and stability.

The child without the secure attachment tends to become more fearful, timid and slow to explore new situations or their environment.

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When a strong attachment is developed in a child, he or she will be inclined to be more adventurous and seek out new experiences because they feel more secure. They know that whoever is watching out for them will be there if needed.

Bowlby’s colleague, Mary Ainsworth, took the theory further. She did extensive studies around infant-parent separations and provided a more formal framework for the differing attachment styles.

How attachment develops

Simply put, attachment is an emotional bond with another person. Attachment doesn’t have to go both ways, it can be one person feeling attached to another without it being reciprocated. Most of the time, it works between two people to one degree or another.

Attachment begins at a very young age. Over the history of time, when children were able to maintain a closer proximity to a caregiver that provided for them, a strong attachment was formed.

The initial thought was that the ability to provide food or nourishment to a child was the primary driver of a strong attachment.

It was then discovered that the primary drivers of attachment proved to be the parent/caregivers responsiveness to the child as well as the ability to nurture that child in a variety of ways. Things such as support, care, sustenance, and protection are all components of nurturing a child.

In essence a child forms a strong attachment when they feel that their caregiver is accessible and attentive and there if they need them; that the parent/caregiver will be there for them. If the child does not feel that the caregiver is there to help them when needed, they experience anxiety.

Different types of attachments

In children, 4 types of attachment styles have been identified. They are as follows:

  • Secure attachment – This is primarily marked by discomfort or distress when separated from caregivers and joy and security when the caregiver is back around the child. Even though the child initially feels agitated when the caregiver is no longer around, they feel confident they will return. The return of the parent or caregiver is met with positive emotions, the child prefers parents to strangers.
  • Ambivalent attachment – These children become very distressed when the parent or caregiver leaves. They feel they can’t rely on their caregiver for support when the need arises. Even though a child with ambivalent attachment may be agitated or confused when reunited with a parent or caregiver, they will cling to them.
  • Avoidant attachment – These kids typically avoid parents or caregivers. When they have a choice of being with the parent or not, they don’t seem to care one way or the other. Research has shown that this may be the result of neglectful caregivers.
  • Disorganized attachment – These children display a mix of disoriented behavior towards their caregiver. They may want them sometimes and other times they don’t. This is sometimes thought to be linked to inconsistent behavior from the parent or caregiver.

What attachments mean to adults

So the big question is how does this affect us in adulthood? Intuitively it makes sense that as a child, if we have someone who will be there when we need them, we feel secure. And on the other end of the spectrum, if we aren’t sure someone’s going to provide what we need when we need it, we may become more anxious and fearful.

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As an adult, we tend to wind up in one of three primary attachment types based on our childhood experiences. These are secure, avoidant, and anxious. Technically, there is a fourth one, anxious-avoidant, but it is quite a bit less common. They are described as follows:

  • Secure – When you have a secure attachment, you are comfortable displaying interest and affection towards another person but you’re also fine being alone and independent. Secure types are less apt to obsess over a relationship gone sour and handle being rejected easier. Secure types also tend to be better than other types with not starting relationships with people that might not be the best partners. They cut off the relationship quicker when they see things in a potential partner they don’t like. Secure attachment people make up the majority of the attachment types.
  • Anxious – Folks who have an anxious attachment style typically need a lot of reassurance from their partners. They have a much harder time being on their own and single than the other styles and fall into bad relationships more often. The anxious style represent about 20% of the population. It’s been shown that if anxious attachment styles learn how to communicate their needs better and learn to date secure partners, they can move towards the secure attachment style.
  • Avoidant – Avoidant attachment style represents approximately 25% of the population as adults. Avoidants many times have the hardest time in a relationship because they have a difficult time finding satisfaction. In general, they are uncomfortable with close relationships and intimacy and are quite independent. They are the lone wolf type person.
  • Anxious-avoidant – The anxious-avoidant style is relatively rare. It is composed of conflicting styles – they want to be close but at the same time push people away. They do things that push the people they are closest to away. Many times there can be a higher risk of depression or other mental health issues.

Here’s where it gets really interesting:

Move towards secure attachment

The good news is that it is possible to move from one style to another. Specifically, it is possible to move towards a more secure attachment style.

Now as you might imagine, this is not an easy or a quick process. Like any type of big change where you are attempting to alter such a deeply ingrained mindset, it takes a strong will to accomplish.

The first step is developing an awareness of your attachment style. The next step is to have the desire and drive to move your attachment style towards the more secure style.

If someone with an anxious or avoidant style has a long term relationship with a secure type, the anxious or avoidant person can slowly get brought up more towards a secure style.

The opposite is also true, they could bring the secure person more towards their attachment style. Therefore, you have to be conscious of your type and if you want to move more towards secure, it takes persistence.

Therapy is an option as well. Anxious types many times need to work on their self-esteem, avoidants on their connection specifically and compassion.

How to restructure your thoughts

Ready for the way to do it? Here we go:

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For the Avoidant Style

As with any type of change on such a deep level, the first step is awareness. Realize you have an avoidant style and be aware of it as you have interactions with your partner(s).

Try to work towards a place of mutual support and giving/taking. Try to lessen your need for complete self-reliance. Allow your partner to do some things that make you a little uncomfortable that you would normally do yourself.

Don’t always focus on the imperfections of your partner. We all have them, remind yourself of that.

Make yourself a list of the qualities that your partner has that you are thankful for.

Look for a secure style partner if at all possible, they would be good for you to be with.

If you have a tendency to end relationships before they go too far, be aware of that and let it develop further.

Get into the habit of accepting and even instigating physical touch. Tell yourself that it’s good for you to have some intimacy. Intimacy can help you feel safe and secure.

And over time you can realize that it’s okay to rely on other people.

For the Anxious Style

For the anxious style, the #1 thing to work on is learning to communicate needs better. This is a huge issue for the anxious style.

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First and foremost if you communicate your needs more clearly, you will have less anxiety, that’s already a big win. This will also allow you to better assess if a potential partner is good for you.

Try to bring your feelings more to the surface and most importantly, share them with your partner. Remember that secure attachments typically communicate pretty well, this is what you are working towards.

For the Anxious-Avoidant Style

The anxious-avoidant is a very small percentage of the attachment styles. Since this type tends to be anxious in the relationship AND more or less a loner, the key here is working hard to be very self-aware of your actions.

Use the parts of striving towards secure attachment from the anxious tips and the avoidant restructuring of your thoughts to consciously work towards being more secure.

When you find yourself pushing someone away, ask why. If you feel worried that your partner is going to leave you, again, ask yourself where this is coming from. Have they shown you any reason to believe this? Many times there is no real evidence. In that case, allow yourself to calm down and try not to obsess over it.

For the Secure Style

Since the goal is to move towards a more secure attachment style, there isn’t much needed here as you might imagine.

Something to be aware of is being in a relationship just because it’s “okay”. Don’t stay if it’s not a good place for you and your partner. If your partner is of an anxious or avoidant attachment style, stay mindful to not start developing characteristics of those styles.

Strive towards Secure Attachment

As we wrap things up, you’ve probably developed a good idea of the benefits of secure attachment. If you don’t currently have a secure attachment style, here are some benefits of restructuring your thoughts more towards this style:

  • Positive self esteem and self image
  • Close and well adjusted relationships
  • Sense of security in self and the world
  • Ability to be independent as well as in relationships
  • Optimistic outlook on life and yourself
  • Strong coping skills and strategies for relationships and life
  • Trust in self and others
  • Close, intimate relationships
  • Strong determination and problem solving skills

If you are an anxious or avoidant style or the combination of anxious-avoidant, it is possible to move towards a secure attachment style.

It takes self-awareness, patience and a strong desire to get close to being secure but it can be done. You will find that putting the effort into it will provide you with more open, honest and satisfying relationships.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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